Eight NATO soldiers, including seven Americans and one German, have been killed in three separate incidents in one of the deadliest days for Western troops in Afghanistan for months.
Officials from the Western military alliance said in the worst of the incidents, five U.S. troops were killed when they were hit by a roadside bomb in southern Kandahar Province.
Two more American soldiers were killed in western Farah Province, when an Afghan National Army soldier fired on them in a suspected “insider attack.”
The Taliban, which vowed a spate of insider attacks when it launched its spring offensive a week ago, claimed responsibility for the killing.
Finally, a German special forces soldier was killed in northern Baghlan Province after insurgents opened fire on an Afghan-led military operation. A second German soldier was injured.
Speaking in Berlin, German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the fatality marks the first combat death of a member of Germany’s 1,000-strong special forces in Afghanistan.
"After a long time, I must once again inform the German public that yesterday a German soldier was killed in Afghanistan," he said. "A further comrade was injured. It is a painful and bitter news which has shocked us all."
Germany is the third-largest contributor of foreign troops in Afghanistan, with some 4,000 soldiers in the country.
The string of attacks come as NATO prepares to withdraw its 100,000 foreign troops deployed across Afghanistan by the end of next year.
The Western pullout continues to raise questions about the readiness of Afghan troops to assume full responsibility for maintaining security.
De Maiziere described the spate of attacks in grim terms.
"Yesterday, seven comrades from ISAF countries were also killed in other parts of Afghanistan. We also mourn these soldiers and are thinking of their families," he said. "It was a bitter, bloody day in Afghanistan, and we will never forget it."
The Associated Press is reporting that the May 4 attacks mark the third time in the past year that seven Americans have been killed in a single day in the Afghan war.
With reporting by AP, dpa, Reuters, and AFP